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Epistemology Component Essay

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Epistemology component essay


In Philosophy. many thinkers search for the nature and grounds of human knowledge. We call this area of study Epistemology. Two important epistemological philosophers are Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Sanders Peirce. Nietzsche’s work has had a lasting fascination for many, and has developed an almost cult following although his work has found little significance among fellow academicians. Peirce began his philosophy when he retired. His approach to knowledge is that of the pragmatists. They feel knowledge is in part a social product, meaning that we use our intellect to entertain ourselves in a society. Both philosophers have their own views on the nature of knowledge, and methods for gaining knowledge. This essay will explore the unique methods and views of both.

Nietzsche does not feel that human knowledge is a wonderful thing. His view is also very pragmatic. Nietzsche views our knowledge as more of a tool. The opening of his essay “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense” begins with a comparison of the creation of the solar system and man’s knowledge, to the collapse of the sun and mankind’s demise. This long stretch of time was summed up in three sentences. No description was put into the idea of knowledge. For many, knowledge is so grand and complicated that it could never be completely explained. Obviously, Nietzsche feels that we are the only things that would place any value on our knowledge. If we could communicate with other animals. he feels they would feel the same sense of self-importance. Nietzsche’s view on the nature of our intellect is that it is our means of existence. We use our intellect for survival. A lion is the king of the jungle with its sheer power and razor sharp fangs. Amazingly a human could kill a lion. Using the intellect to develop tools to subdue the large beast. If we were not a smart species. the large jaws of countless animals would have wiped us out long ago. In our modern world. our intellect still is our defense tool. Now we use it to fit in socially for our amusement. Now to survive we invented tools like lying. flattery, and deception. Clearly Nietzsche does not place a high value on intellect. He tells us that your intellect even deceives yourself, at night in your dreams. and you can do nothing about it. Nietzsche further demonstrates his value of truth by saying it is a sum of human relations that have been enhanced and embellished. We search for truth as an obligation to society. Nietzsche places little value on our intellect, and sees it as tool that we have used too much.

Peirce offers a more optimistic, yet pragmatic, view on the nature of knowledge. Peirce feels that we all have our beliefs. He says our beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions. As humans we feel more comfortable when we are free of doubt. Doubt being the opposite of belief again. When we enter a state of doubt, the irritation causes a struggle to attain a state of belief. Peirce says doubt leads to inquiry, which leads to belief. Peirce has very specific methods, for fixing our beliefs. These are the actions taken to get back into the state of belief. In the method of science. we use reason and reference to facts and experiences. Just like it sounds. you can test your doubts easily. An example would be that you believe you can fly. To test this you jump off your porch. Quickly you learn if you stay in the uneasy state of doubt, or return to the calm state of belief. The next method, a priori method, is the philosopher’s method. It is the nature of the process to believe what we want to. This method is more pleasing due to believing what you want without fact or reason. For instance, someone could say you have a nice haircut. so you probably will believe it. The method of authority is not as rewarding. In this public method your beliefs are fixed for you by force. The state has control over these beliefs. Although it does not sound good. it is a good thing. If someone believes they should start killing everyone, then thier beliefs need to be fixed by the state. The last method is Peirce’s favorite. The method of tenacity, as its name suggests, is the method of the persistent and the stubborn. This method is a private method, which allows you to hang on to your belief. A good example might be religion. People tend to hold on to their religious beliefs all their life. No matter what happens many people will not abandon their beliefs. Peirce’s method for fixing belief is very appropriate for his belief on the nature of knowledge. As a pragmatist he views knowledge as a tool. His method of fixing beliefs are tools of the mind for the mind.

Both philosophers have very different opinions. considering both are epistemolgical and pragmatic. Nietzsche has a much more pessimistic view of the human intellect. Peirce try’s to explain what we do when we are in doubt. Both offer some intriguing thoughts about the nature of knowledge. I liked Peirce’s essay. I think he is correct that we struggle to be in a state of beliefs. He translated a very specific process that I agree that we all go through. Nietzsche was also very insightful. I agree with his opinion that the human intellect is our survival tool. However I disagree with his lack of respect for the human thought. I think it is a very elaborate system that is a miracle of creation.

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Epistomology - Essay by Meljrai

Epistomology Essay

Below is an essay on "Epistomology" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Epistemology’s basic definition is that it is the study of the origin, nature, and limits of human knowledge. Another way in which we could more clearly define it is, is by saying that Epistemology is the study of knowing.
It primarily focuses on the nature of knowledge and not the how-to of knowledge:

“How do we know things”
“What do we know”
“Why we know, and are the things we know true, and what are the limits of this knowledge”

In essence the close relationship between psychology and epistemology is rather intimate since the cognitive processes of perception, memory, imagination, conception and reasoning, are the very processes which are essentially the special subject matter of epistemology.

That being said the psychological and epistemological treatments, of the cognitive processes of mind are still rather radically different:

• Scientific psychology: Is solely concerned with the description and explanation of conscious processes
• Epistemology: Is interested in the cognitive pretentions of the perceptions

I know I exist.
I know that I know I exist.

Basically a theory is a substantiated explanation of one or another aspect of the natural world. Some people refer to theories as a guess or conjecture, contemplation or speculation

(A hypothesis, not a theory makes a specific prediction about a specified set of circumstance- a hypothesis is a speculative guess that has yet to be tested)

But in essence a theory is a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, it is based on a body of knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment
Most theories that have been accepted by scientists have been thoroughly tested by experiments and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena

Theories have been proposed and proven, to explain and.

Реферат на тему Epistemology Essay Research Paper Epistemology is the

Epistemology Essay, Research Paper

Epistemology is the nature of knowledge. Knowledge is important when considering what is reality and what is deception. The movie “The Matrix” displays a social deception in which Neo, the main character, is caught between what he thought was once reality and a whole new world that controls everything he thought was real. If I were Neo, I would not truly be able to know that I was in the matrix. However, it is rational to believe that I am in the matrix and will eventually enter back into my reality later. The proof that that I can know that I am in the matrix and that I will return to reality comes from the responses of foundationalism, idealism, and pallibalism.

To begin, foundationalism is the essence of what we are certain of. Many philosophers argue on the basis of foundationalism to find out where knowledge begins. This will help determine if Neo would be able to know or not know if he is dreaming up the matrix or in fact that it is reality. The popularity of foundationalism starts with Descartes. He challenged the previously popular skepticism. In Descartes Meditations he discusses many issues relating to the question of “where does knowledge come from?” His main arguments appear in his dreaming argument. He first begins by stating 1. I often have perceptions very much like the ones I usually have in sensation while I am dreaming. Then he goes on to say 2. There are no definite signs to distinguish dream experience from waking experience. These two premises lead to the conclusion that 3. It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all my perceptions are false. This shows that there is no real way to know to know anything. Descartes add to his argument using foundationalism. “’Throughout my writings I have made it clear that my method imitates that of the architect. When an architect wants to build a house which is stable on ground where there is a sandy topsoil over underlying rock, or clay, or some other firm base, he begins by digging out a set of trenches from which he removes the sand, and anything resting on or mixed in with the sand, so that he can lay his foundations on firm soil. In the same way, I began by taking everything that was doubtful and throwing it out, like sand … (Replies 7, AT 7:537)’ (Lex, Newman)”. This explains how foundationalism works; you must remove all of your doubt to advance to the foundationtion of which you are sure of. This is called the method of doubt. Once you know what you are sure of, you can build up knowledge from there. Many wonder how we can wonder we are not dreaming. Some agree that you cannot feel pain in a dream, but others say they have. The argument that dreams are not related to memory is strong because most people do not remember their dreams. Descartes explains that in a dream you can feel as if you are using all of your senses, but they seem to be more vague than when awake. Descartes struggles with the dream issue until he comes upon his conclusion. “’I now notice that there is a vast difference between [being asleep and being awake], in that dreams are never linked by memory with all the other actions of life as waking experiences are. … But when I distinctly see where things come from and where and when they come to me, and when I can connect my perceptions of them with the whole of the rest of my life without a break, then I am quite certain that when I encounter these things I am not asleep but awake. (Med. 6, AT 7:89-90)’ (Lex, Newman)” This dream argument attributes to how we can know anything. For Neo’s sake it helps him decide weather he is really in the matrix or not.

In addition to foundationalism proving that knowledge is built up from what we are certain of, idealism plays an important role of arguing that all reality is in the mind. Descartes’ argument for idealism explains how knowledge of reality is possible. He goes through the process of using an example like a pen and justifying its existence. There are 3 steps to this process: 1. I know I perceive the pen. 2. To exist is to be perceived (Berkeley). 3. I know the pen exists. Another philosopher, Berkeley, argues esse est percipi, which translates to “to be is to be perceived”. This means that if you are perceived you exist and the same thing goes for reality. There are issues that argue against idealism; one of these arguments is that we have no conception of unperceived matter. As soon as you perceive it you can conceive it. The only problems with this argument are the fact that many people perceive the distant path. An example of this is the “Big Bang” theory. Also the perception of the atom and distant galaxies furthermore cause a problem. So idealism still stands strong. Neo’s perception of the matrix exists so therefor Neo believes that the matrix is real.

Yet there remains one more response to furthermore prove that Neo is rational to believe he is in the matrix. This is the response to Pallibalism, the theory that knowledge does not require certainty. This response goes about saying that we are certain of our minds and our own existence. Neo has knowledge of the matrix, but there is no certainty with his knowledge. Noe is able to perceive the surroundings around him in the matrix and he can be sure he is not dreaming, but he can not know for sure if the matrix is truly real. The case for this is that he could be just a brain in a Vat in a giant virtual reality. Another example similar to “The Matrix” is “The Trueman Show”. In this case it is a local deception rather than a social deception. Pallibalism agrees with foundationalism and idealism in the fact that knowledge is an abstract notion and the only thing that one can be certain of is them selves.

Clearly then, foundationalism, idealism, and pallibalism all fit together to prove that Neo can not be certain of the matrix, but only himself. Also it further explains how it is rational for him to believe that the matrix exists through his perception of the matrix and the knowledge he obtains when he is there. The growth of knowledge in Neo’s mind is possible what is his deception. The more he perceives could possible be more he is deceived. What we know about reality is all in our minds and if we can only be certain of ourselves and our own existence then the reality that we perceive and conceive does exist. So the answer is yes, Neo can know that he is in the matrix, but this does not necessarily mean the matrix exists. As far as Neo knows the matrix does exist and that he will return to what he thought was his reality later, knowing that there is more than just his world.

Newman, Lex, “Descartes’ Epistemology”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 1999 Edition), Edward N, Zalta (ed.), URL=

Epistemology Essay - Research Papers - 751 Words

Epistemology Essay

Descartes uses epistemology and metaphysics to frame his famous "cogito" argument. But in order to understand how that works, first, we must discuss the differences between an epistemological and a metaphysical question.

Epistemology is a facet of philosophy interested in knowledge. And an epistemological question is a question concerned with something relating to knowledge, apprehension of knowledge, knowledge-world correspondence, or the origins of knowledge. What is knowledge? Is knowledge even possible? If so, how do we get it? Does knowledge correspond to reality? How do people acquire knowledge?--Is it from the world or from our experiences in the world or do we have it before we experience the world?

Metaphysics is a division of philosophy interested in figuring out exactly what being is. Basically any kind of question about what is, natural or supernatural, including science and religion, is a metaphysical question. Some of their perennial questions are what is the difference between particulars and individuals? Is there a reality out there? What is reality? Is there a god? What is god? Is free will a possibility? Is change possible? What is identity? How much control do agents have control over their actions?

And though these two philosophies overlap in some places, they have three major differences. First, epistemology is almost always focused on being a living thing, because even if one investigates whether or not knowledge corresponds to the world, an agent is still necessary to see uncover the knowledge there. Second, metaphysics is very often focused on the differences between things, and while you could ask the question "Is there such a thing as knowledge?" in both an epistemological and a metaphysical context, your answers could be very similar, but will likely be different. They'd differ because epistemologically, asking the question will usually break down into questions about the justification for beliefs and knowledge; whereas a.

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Epistemology ------------------------------------------------- Carefully explain Descartes’ cogito and his attempt to build his knowledge structure from the ground up. (Be as succinct as possible.) Does Descartes succeed or fail in that attempt? Justify your answer in full. Descartes’ Epistemology This essay attempts to explain Descartes’ epistemology of his knowledge, his “Cogito, Ergo Sum” concept (found in the Meditations), and why.

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1.0 Introduction Over the years, the nature of reality, knowing, thinking and believing has constituted puzzling issues which epistemology attempts to grapple with. Issues cutting across what can we know, what is the nature and scope of human knowledge, what can be known with certainty, how do we acquire knowledge, how can we know what is when we come across it, what can be left to faith or opinion to decide, as well as the proper source of knowledge preoccupied the.

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Epistemology . Jaggar Philosophy has been around since 600 BC and is still being studied today. In Ancient Greek, to now, philosophy means “love of wisdom” but can be defined as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, truth, nature and meaning of life, especially when considered as an academic discipline. Philosophy is actually divided into smaller sub-fields such as epistemology . logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics.

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What is the relationship between epistemology and metaphysics In many ways epistemology clears the way for metaphysical construction or hypothesis. By adhering to the principles of one branch of philosophy, it allows us to become better at searching within the other. It is true that epistemic ideas are often knocked down by metaphysics, but when one considers that it is entirely possible to base metaphysical ideas on epistemology . it becomes.

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Review Test Submission: Exam 3 | | Course | Epistemology -PHIL 201 | Test | Exam 3 | | | | | | | | | | | | | * Question 1 | | | __________________ combined rationalism and empiricism, showing how both played a role in our understanding | | | Correct Answer: | Kant. | | | | | * Question 2 | | Descartes deduced God from the concept of God itself, in order to justify the idea of the material world. Correct.

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“divided line.” (You can use the visual image, but explain it.) Plato was extremely devoted in answering the sophists’ skepticism about reason and morality. To do so, he spent more time than any philosopher before him studying knowledge, or epistemology . He realized that to answer the sophists’ skepticism he had to first solve the three main problems that earlier philosophers had left behind; the problems of change, the “one” and the “many”, and the problem between.

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G. E. Moore’s Response to Skepticism Patricia Baiyewu PHI 472/ Introduction to Metaphysics & Epistemology October 20, 2012 Professor John Barker G. E. Moore’s main contributions to philosophy were in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology . ethics, and philosophical methodology. In epistemology . Moore is remembered as a stalwart defender of commonsense realism. Rejecting skepticism on the one hand, and, on the other, metaphysical.

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it that Descartes, Locke achieved a total radical break from the past and inaugurated a completely new philosophical era. One cannot understand scholars like Descartes or Locke without having some real knowledge of medieval thinking. Thus, in this essay . I wish to show that Aquinas, a thinker of the middle ages, thought on knowledge is of permanent value and that it deserves respect and due consideration for today’s discourse of philosophy. Aquinas Theory on Knowledge: His.

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Epistemology essays Epistemology

Understanding the World through the Study of Knowledge
The study of knowledge, better known as epistemology, is the area of philosophy that investigates the nature, sources, limitations, and validity of knowledge. Epistemology was brought about during the time of the Enlightenment during the 17th-18th centuries by modern philosophers. Epistemology answers the question ‘How do we know’? It is concerned with how are minds are related to reality, and whether these relationships are valid or invalid. Epistemology is the explanation of how we think and is required in order to determine the true from the false. It is needed in order to obtain knowledge of the world around us. Epistemology can be explained through rationalism and imperialism.
Rationalists explain the world through the mind. Rationalism can be defined as the theory of knowledge, which holds that the ultimate source of knowledge is reason. Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, was a rationalist. He is often called the father of modern philosophy because of his criticism of earlier philosophical truth. He became very interested in mathematics and incorporated this reasoning into other aspects of our thinking.
As a rationalist, Descartes believed that whatever is clearly and distinctly perceived is true. If an idea is clear then its content includes the nature and essence of it, and if it is distinct nothing contradictory to the essence of an object is included within it. He believes that the essence of matter is extension. Descartes refers to three different arguments in supporting his philosophy. These three arguments are the illusion, the dream, and the evil demon.
Descartes believes that sometimes the senses deceive us into seeing illusions. Sometimes things are very far away and are hardly perceptible to the naked eye. We recognize them as a means but we can not trust entirely what we have perceived. Our senses deceive us all the time into thinking.

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Epistemology - Essays

Epistemology Epistemology

Emily Simpson
Philosophy 2745
For the most part, philosophers agree that knowledge requires truth, justification, and belief. However, the debate lies in whether or not a theory of knowledge accurately and fully satisfies these conditions. The standard account of knowledge has three conditions that need to be met in order for an individual to have knowledge. S must know that p if and only if: (1) S believes that p, (2) p is true and (3) S is justified in believing that p. On the surface, it seems that this account implicates knowledge; however, Edmund Gettier showed through the Gettier cases that you can believe yourself to be justified, but not actually have knowledge. This epistemic setback is known as the Gettier Problem.
Since the standard account of knowledge was essentially done away with, philosophers have been in search of the best way to solve the Gettier problem. Alvin Goldman in particular has published many papers detailing his thoughts on the matter. “A Causal Theory of Knowing” was the first in a series of works in which Goldman sought a theory that could handle Gettier’s cases. Unfortunately, Goldman’s own causal theory was undermined by his and Carl Ginet’s fake barn case.
The Ginet-Goldman fake barn case first appeared in Goldman’s “Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge”. It describes a boy, Henry, who is traveling through the countryside and sees what he believes to be a barn. Unbeknownst to Henry, the area he is in is actually full of façades of barns. It is only by sheer coincidence that the barn Henry has pointed out is a real barn and not a façade. As a result of this, we become hesitant to say that Henry “knows” he saw a barn. (“Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge” 86-87)
We know that the fake barn case undermines Goldman’s causal theory of knowing, Goldman says as much himself. In 1979, he published “What is Justified Belief?” in order to present another knowledge theory that might defeat Gettier style.

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Epistemology - Psychology Wiki


According to Plato. knowledge is a subset of that which is both true and believed

Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature and scope of knowledge and belief. The term "epistemology" is based on the Greek words " ἐπιστήμη or episteme " (knowledge or science) and "λόγος or logos " (account/explanation); it was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808-1864 ). [1]

Epsistemological theories in philosophy are a ways of analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates notions such as truth. belief. and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims. In other words, epistemology primarily addresses the following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people know?".

Psychologists have greatly contributed to elucidating the answer to the latter two questions making them the subject of empirical investigation rather than philosophical speculation.

There are many different topics, stances, and arguments in the field of epistemology. Recent psychological studies have dramatically challenged centuries-old assumptions, and the discipline therefore continues to be vibrant and dynamic.

Contents Defining knowledge Edit

The first issue epistemology must address is the question of what knowledge is. This question is several millennia old, and among the most prominent in epistemology.

Distinguishing knowing that from knowing how Edit

In this article, and in epistemology in general, the kind of knowledge usually discussed is propositional knowledge. also known as "knowledge-that" as opposed to "knowledge-how". For example: in mathematics, it is knowing that 2 + 2 = 4, but there is also knowing how to add two numbers. Or, one knows how to ride a bicycle and one knows that a bicycle has two wheels.

Philosophers thus distinguish between theoretical reason (knowing that) and practical reason (knowing how), with epistemology being interested primarily in theoretical knowledge. This distinction is recognised linguistically in many languages but not in English. In French (as well as in Portuguese and Spanish), for example, to know a person is 'connaître' ('conhecer' / 'conocer'), whereas to know how to do something is 'savoir' ('saber' in both Portuguese and Spanish). In Italian the verbs are respectively 'conoscere' and 'sapere' and the nouns for 'knowledge' are 'conoscenza' and 'sapienza'. In the German language, it is exemplified with the verbs "kennen" and "wissen." "Wissen" implies knowing as a fact, "kennen" implies knowing in the sense of being acqainted with and having a working knowledge of. But neither of those verbs do truly extend to the full meaning of the subject of epistemology. In German, there is also a verb derived from "kennen", namely "erkennen". which roughly implies knowledge in form of recognition or acknowledgment, strictly metaphorically. The verb itself implies a process: you have to go from one state to another: from a state of "not-erkennen " to a state of true erkennen. This verb seems to be the most appropriate in terms of describing the "episteme" in one of the modern European languages.

Belief Edit

Sometimes, when people say that they believe in something, what they mean is that they predict that it will prove to be useful or successful in some sense — perhaps someone might "believe in" his or her favorite football team. This is not the kind of belief usually addressed within epistemology. The kind that is dealt with, as such, is where "to believe something" just means to think that it is true — e.g. to believe that the sky is blue is to think that the proposition, "The sky is blue," is true.

Knowledge implies belief. Consider the statement, "I know P. but I don't believe that P is true." This statement is contradictory. To know P is, among other things, to believe that P is true, i.e. to believe in P. (See the article on Moore's paradox .)

Truth Edit

If someone believes something, he or she thinks that it is true, but he or she may be mistaken. This is not the case with knowledge. For example, suppose that Jeff thinks that a particular bridge is safe, and attempts to cross it; unfortunately, the bridge collapses under his weight. We might say that Jeff believed that the bridge was safe, but that his belief was mistaken. We would not accurately say that he knew that the bridge was safe, because plainly it was not. For something to count as knowledge, it must actually be true.

Justified true belief Edit

In Plato's dialogue Theaetetus . Socrates considers a number of theories as to what knowledge is, the last being that knowledge is true belief that has been "given an account of" — meaning explained or defined in some way. According to the theory that knowledge is justified true belief, in order to know that a given proposition is true, one must not only believe the relevant true proposition, but one must also have a good reason for doing so. One implication of this would be that no one would gain knowledge just by believing something that happened to be true. For example, an ill person with no medical training, but a generally optimistic attitude, might believe that she will recover from her illness quickly. Nevertheless, even if this belief turned out to be true, the patient would not have known that she would get well since her belief lacked justification. The definition of knowledge as justified true belief was widely accepted until the 1960s. At this time, a paper written by the American philosopher Edmund Gettier provoked widespread discussion.

The Gettier problem Edit

In 1963 Edmund Gettier called into question the theory of knowledge that had been dominant among philosophers for thousands of years [2]. In a few pages, Gettier argued that there are situations in which one's belief may be justified and true, yet fail to count as knowledge. That is, Gettier contended that while it is necessary for knowledge of a proposition that one be justified in one's true belief in that proposition, it is not sufficient. As in the diagram above, a true proposition can be believed by an individual but still not fall within the "knowledge" category (purple region).

According to Gettier, there are certain circumstances in which one does not have knowledge, even when all of the above conditions are met. Gettier proposed two thought experiments. which have come to be known as "Gettier cases", as counterexamples to the classical account of knowledge. One of the cases involves two men, Smith and Jones, who are awaiting the results of their applications for the same job. Each man has ten coins in his pocket. Smith has excellent reasons to believe that Jones will get the job and, furthermore, knows that Jones has ten coins in his pocket (he recently counted them). From this Smith infers, "the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket." However, Smith is unaware that he has ten coins in his own pocket. Furthermore, Smith, not Jones, is going to get the job. While Smith has strong evidence to believe that Jones will get the job, he is wrong. Smith has a justified true belief that a man with ten coins in his pocket will get the job; however, according to Gettier, Smith does not know that a man with ten coins in his pocket will get the job, because Smith's belief is ". true in virtue of the number of coins in Smith's pocket, while Smith does not know how many coins are in Smith's pocket, and bases his belief. on a count of the coins in Jones's pocket, whom he falsely believes to be the man who will get the job."(see [2] p.122.)

Responses to Gettier Edit

The responses to Gettier have been varied. With respect to the example of Smith and his job, Smith really does know that someone with ten coins in his pocket will get the job. However, some may find this, as a claim to knowledge, counterintuitive. Usually, responses to Gettier have involved substantive attempts to provide a definition of knowledge different from the classical one, either by recasting knowledge as justified true belief with some additional fourth condition, or as something else altogether.

Infallibilism, indefeasibility Edit

In one response to Gettier, the American philosopher Richard Kirkham has argued that the only definition of knowledge that could ever be immune to all counterexamples is the infallibilist one. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] To qualify as an item of knowledge, so the theory goes, a belief must not only be true and justified, the justification of the belief must necessitate its truth. In other words, the justification for the belief must be infallible. (See Fallibilism . below, for more information.)

Yet another possible candidate for the fourth condition of knowledge is indefeasibility. Defeasibility theory maintains that there should be no overriding or defeating truths for the reasons that justify one's belief. For example, suppose that person S believes they saw Tom Grabit steal a book from the library and uses this to justify the claim that Tom Grabit stole a book from the library. A possible defeater or overriding proposition for such a claim could be a true proposition like, "Tom Grabit's identical twin Sam is currently in the same town as Tom." So long as no defeaters of one's justification exist, a subject would be epistemically justified.

The Indian philosopher B K Matilal has drawn on the Navya-Nyaya fallibilism tradition to respond to the Gettier problem. Nyaya theory distinguishes between know p and know that one knows p - these are different events, with different causal conditions. The second level is a sort of implicit inference that usually follows immediately the episode of knowing p (knowledge simpliciter ). The Gettier case is analyzed by referring to a view of Gangesha (13th c.), who takes any true belief to be knowledge; thus a true belief acquired through a wrong route may just be regarded as knowledge simpliciter on this view. The question of justification arises only at the second level, when one considers the knowledgehood of the acquired belief. Initially, there is lack of uncertainty, so it becomes a true belief. But at the very next moment, when the hearer is about to embark upon the venture of knowing whether he knows p. doubts may arise. "If, in some Gettier-like cases, I am wrong in my inference about the knowledgehood of the given occurrent belief (for the evidence may be pseudo-evidence), then I am mistaken about the truth of my belief -- and this is in accord with Nyaya fallibilism: not all knowledge-claims can be sustained." [3]

Reliabilism Edit

Reliabilism is a theory advanced by philosophers such as Alvin Goldman according to which a belief is justified (or otherwise supported in such a way as to count towards knowledge) only if it is produced by processes that typically yield a sufficiently high ratio of true to false beliefs. In other words, as per its name, this theory states that a true belief counts as knowledge only if it is produced by a reliable belief-forming process.

Reliabilism has been challenged by Gettier cases. A prominent such case is that of Henry and the barn façades. In the thought experiment, a man, Henry, is driving along and sees a number of buildings that resemble barns. Based on his perception of one of these, he concludes that he has just seen barns. While he has seen one, and the perception he based his belief on was of a real barn, all the other barn-like buildings he saw were façades. Theoretically, Henry doesn't know that he has seen a barn, despite both his belief that he has seen one being true and his belief being formed on the basis of a reliable process (i.e. his vision), since he only acquired his true belief by accident. [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

Other responses Edit

The American philosopher Robert Nozick has offered the following definition of knowledge:

S knows that P if and only if:

Nozick believed that the third subjunctive condition served to address cases of the sort described by Gettier. Nozick further claims this condition addresses a case of the sort described by D. M. Armstrong [5]. A father believes his son innocent of committing a particular crime, both because of faith in his son and (now) because he has seen presented in the courtroom a conclusive demonstration of his son's innocence. His belief via the method of the courtroom satisfies the four subjunctive conditions, but his faith-based belief does not. If his son were guilty, he would still believe him innocent, on the basis of faith in his son; this would violate the third subjunctive condition.

The British philosopher Simon Blackburn has criticized this formulation by suggesting that we do not want to accept as knowledge beliefs which, while they "track the truth" (as Nozick's account requires), are not held for appropriate reasons. He says that "we do not want to award the title of knowing something to someone who is only meeting the conditions through a defect, flaw, or failure, compared with someone else who is not meeting the conditions." [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

Finally, at least one philosopher, Timothy Williamson. has advanced a theory of knowledge according to which knowledge is not justified true belief plus some extra condition(s). In his book Knowledge and its Limits . Williamson argues that the concept of knowledge cannot be analyzed into a set of other concepts—instead, it is sui generis . Thus, though knowledge requires justification, truth, and belief, the word "knowledge" can't be, according to Williamson's theory, accurately regarded as simply shorthand for "justified true belief".

Externalism and internalism Edit

Part of the debate over the nature of knowledge is a debate between epistemological externalists on the one hand, and epistemological internalists on the other. Externalists think that factors deemed "external", meaning outside of the psychological states of those who gain knowledge, can be conditions of knowledge. For example, an externalist response to the Gettier problem is to say that, in order for a justified, true belief to count as knowledge, it must be caused, in the right sort of way, by relevant facts. Such causation, to the extent that it is "outside" the mind, would count as an external, knowledge-yielding condition. Internalists, contrariwise, claim that all knowledge-yielding conditions are within the psychological states of those who gain knowledge.

Acquiring knowledge Edit

The second question that will be dealt with is the question of how knowledge is acquired. This area of epistemology covers what is called "the regress problem", issues concerning epistemic distinctions such as that between experience and apriority as means of creating knowledge and that between synthesis and analysis as means of proof, and debates such as the one between empiricists and rationalists.

The regress problem Edit

Suppose we make a point of asking for a justification for every belief. Any given justification will itself depend on another belief for its justification, so one can also reasonably ask for this to be justified, and so forth. This appears to lead to an infinite regress, with each belief justified by some further belief. The apparent impossibility of completing an infinite chain of reasoning is thought by some to support skepticism. The skeptic will argue that since no one can complete such a chain, ultimately no beliefs are justified and, therefore, no one knows anything. However, many epistemologists studying justification have attempted to argue for various types of chains of reasoning that can escape the regress problem.

Some philosophers, notably Peter Klein in his "Human Knowledge and the Infinite Regress of Reasons ", have argued that it's not impossible for an infinite justificatory series to exist. This position is known as "infinitism ". Infinitists typically take the infinite series to be merely potential, in the sense that an individual may have indefinitely many reasons available to him, without having consciously thought through all of these reasons. The individual need only have the ability to bring forth the relevant reasons when the need arises. This position is motivated in part by the desire to avoid what is seen as the arbitrariness and circularity of its chief competitors, foundationalism and coherentism.

Foundationalists respond to the regress problem by claiming that some beliefs that support other beliefs do not themselves require justification by other beliefs. Sometimes, these beliefs, labeled "foundational", are characterized as beliefs that one is directly aware of the truth of, or as beliefs that are self-justifying, or as beliefs that are infallible. According to one particularly permissive form of foundationalism, a belief may count as foundational, in the sense that it may be presumed true until defeating evidence appears, as long as the belief seems to its believer to be true. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] Others have argued that a belief is justified if it is based on perception or certain a priori considerations.

The chief criticism of foundationalism is that it allegedly leads to the arbitrary or unjustified acceptance of certain beliefs. [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

Another response to the regress problem is coherentism. which is the rejection of the assumption that the regress proceeds according to a pattern of linear justification. The original coherentist model for chains of reasoning was circular. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] This model was broadly repudiated, for obvious reasons. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] Most coherentists now hold that an individual belief is not justified circularly, but by the way it fits together (coheres) with the rest of the belief system of which it is a part. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] This theory has the advantage of avoiding the infinite regress without claiming special, possibly arbitrary status for some particular class of beliefs. Yet, since a system can be coherent while also being wrong, coherentists face the difficulty in ensuring that the whole system corresponds to reality.

There is also a position known as "foundherentism ". Susan Haack is the philosopher who conceived it, and it is meant to be a unification of foundationalism and coherentism. One component of this theory is what is called the "analogy of the crossword puzzle". Whereas, say, infinists regard the regress of reasons as "shaped" like a single line, Susan Haack has argued that it is more like a crossword puzzle, with multiple lines mutually supporting each other. [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

A priori and a posteriori knowledge Edit

The critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant introduced a distinction between two kinds of knowledge: a priori and a posteriori. The nature of this distinction has been disputed by various philosophers; however, the terms may be roughly defined as follows:

  • A priori knowledge is knowledge that is known independently of experience (that is, it is non-empirical).
  • A posteriori knowledge is knowledge that is known by experience (that is, it is empirical).
Analytic/synthetic distinction Edit

Some propositions are such that we appear to be justified in believing them just so far as we understand their meaning. For example, consider, "My father's brother is my uncle." We seem to be justified in believing it to be true by virtue of our knowledge of what its terms mean. Philosophers call such propositions "analytic". Synthetic propositions, on the other hand, have distinct subjects and predicates. An example of a synthetic proposition would be, "My father's brother has black hair." Kant held that all mathematical propositions are synthetic.

Although the American philosopher W. V. O. Quine. in his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism ", famously challenged it, leading to its being taken to be less obviously real than it once seemed, it is still widely believed that there is a distinction between analysis and synthesis. [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

Specific theories of knowledge acquisition Edit Empiricism Edit

In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience, especially experience based on perceptual observations by the five senses. Certain forms treat all knowledge as empirical, [How to reference and link to summary or text ] while some regard disciplines such as mathematics and logic as exceptions. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.

Rationalism Edit

Rationalists believe that knowledge is primarily (at least in some areas) acquired by a priori processes or is innate —e.g. in the form of concepts not derived from experience. The relevant theoretical processes often go by the name "intuition ". [How to reference and link to summary or text ] The relevant theoretical concepts may purportedly be part of the structure of the human mind (as in Kant 's theory of transcendental idealism ), or they may be said to exist independently of the mind (as in Plato's theory of Forms ).

The extent to which this innate human knowledge is emphasized over experience as a means to acquire knowledge varies from rationalist to rationalist. Some hold that knowledge of any kind can only be gained a priori. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] while others claim that some knowledge can also be gained a posteriori. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] Consequently, the borderline between rationalist epistemologies and others can be vague.

Constructivism Edit

Constructivism is a view in philosophy according to which all knowledge is "constructed" in as much as it is contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] It originated in sociology under the term "social constructionism" and has been given the name "constructivism" when referring to philosophical epistemology, though "constructionism" and "constructivism" are often used interchangeably. [How to reference and link to summary or text ]

What do people know? Edit

The last question that will be dealt with is the question of what people know. At the heart of this area of study is skepticism. with many approaches involved trying to disprove some particular form of it.

Skepticism Edit

Skepticism is related to the question of whether certain knowledge is possible. Skeptics argue that the belief in something does not necessarily justify an assertion of knowledge of it. In this skeptics oppose foundationalism. which states that there have to be some basic beliefs that are justified without reference to others. The skeptical response to this can take several approaches. First, claiming that "basic beliefs" must exist amounts to the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance combined with the slippery slope. While a foundationalist would use Munchhausen-Trilemma as a justification for demanding the validity of basic beliefs, a skeptic would see no problem with admitting the result.

This skeptical approach is rarely taken to its pyrrhonean extreme by most practitioners. Several modifications have arisen over the years, including the following[2].

Responses to skepticism Edit Contextualism Edit

Contextualism in epistemology is the claim that knowledge varies with the context in which it is attributed. More precisely, contextualism is the claim that, in a sentence of the form, "S knows that P ," the relation between S and P depends on the context of discussion. According to the contextualist, the term "knows" is context-sensitive in a way similar to words such as "poor", "tall", and "flat". (Opposed to this contextualism are several forms of what is called "invariantism ", the theory that the meaning of the term "knowledge", and hence the proposition expressed by the sentence, "S knows that P ," does not vary from context to context.) The motivation behind contextualism is the idea that, in the context of discussion with an extreme skeptic about knowledge, there is a very high standard for the accurate ascription of knowledge, while in ordinary usage, there is a lower standard. Hence, contextualists attempt to evade skeptical conclusions by maintaining that skeptical arguments against knowledge are not relevant to our ordinary usages of the term.

Fallibilism Edit

For most of philosophical history, "knowledge" was taken to mean belief that was true and justified to an absolute certainty. [How to reference and link to summary or text ] Early in the 20th Century, however, the notion that belief had to be justified as such to count as knowledge lost favour. Fallibilism is the view that knowing something does not entail certainty regarding it.

Practical applications Edit

Far from being purely academic, the study of epistemology is useful for a great many applications. It is particularly commonly employed in issues of law where proof of guilt or innocence may be required, or when it must be determined whether a person knew a particular fact before taking a specific action (e.g. whether an action was premeditated).

Other common applications of epistemology include:

Intercultural References Edit See also Edit Notes Edit
  1. ↑ "James Frederick Ferrier", Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
  2. ↑ 2.0 2.1 Gettier, Edmund (1963). Is Justified True Belief Knowledge. Analysis 23. 121-23.
  3. ↑ Bimal Krishna Matilal (1986). Perception: An essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge. Oxford India 2002. The Gettier problem is dealt with in Chapter 4, Knowledge as a mental episode. The thread continues in the next chapter Knowing that one knows. It is also discussed in Matilal's Word and the World p. 71-72.
  4. ↑ Robert Nozick (1981). Philosophical Explanations. Harvard University Press. Philosophical Explanations Chapter 3 "Knowledge and Skepticism" I. Knowledge Conditions for Knowledge p. 172-178.
  5. ↑ D. M. Armstrong (1973). Belief, Truth and Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. Philosophical Explanations Chapter 3 "Knowledge and Skepticism" I. Knowledge Conditions for Knowledge p. 172-178.
  6. ↑ Kuijp, Leonard W. J. van der (ed.) (1983). Contributions to the development of Tibetan Buddhist epistemology: from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. F. Steiner.
  7. ↑ [1]
References and further reading Edit
  • Annis, David. 1978. "A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification", in American Philosophical Quarterly. 15: 213-219.
  • Boufoy-Bastick, Z. 2005. "Introducing 'Applicable Knowledge' as a Challenge to the Attainment of Absolute Knowledge", Sophia Journal of Philosophy. 8: 39-51.
  • Bovens, Luc & Hartmann, Stephan. 2003. Bayesian Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Butchvarov, Panayot. 1970. The Concept of Knowledge. Evanston, Northwestern University Press.
  • Cohen, Stewart. 1998. "Contextualist Solutions to Epistemological Problems: Scepticism, Gettier, and the Lottery." Australasian Journal of Philosophy. 76: 289-306.
  • Cohen Stewart. 1999. "Contextualism, Skepticism, and Reasons", in Tomberlin 1999.
  • DeRose, Keith. 1992. "Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 15: 213-19.
  • DeRose, Keith. 1999. "Contextualism: An Explanation and Defense", in Greco and Sosa 1999.
  • Feldman, Richard. 1999. "Contextualism and Skepticism", in Tomberlin 1999, pp. 91-114.
  • Gettier, Edmund. 1963. "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?", Analysis. Vol. 23, pp. 121-23. Online text.
  • Greco, J. & Sosa, E. 1999. Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hawthorne, John. 2005. "The Case for Closure", Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Peter Sosa and Matthias Steup (ed.): 26-43.
  • Hendricks, Vincent F. 2006. Mainstream and Formal Epistemology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kant, Immanuel. 1781. Critique of Pure Reason
  • Keeton, Morris T. 1962. "Empiricism", in Dictionary of Philosophy. Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ, pp. 89–90.
  • Kirkham, Richard. 1984. "Does the Gettier Problem Rest on a Mistake?" Mind. 93.
  • Klein, Peter. 1981. Certainty: a Refutation of Scepticism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Kyburg, H.E. 1961. Probability and the Logic of Rational Belief. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Lewis, David. 1996. "Elusive Knowledge." Australian Journal of Philosophy. 74, 549-67.
  • Machado, A. Lourenco, O. & Silva, F. J. (2000). Facts, concepts, and theories: The shape of psychology's epistemic triangle. Behavior and Philosophy. 28, 1-40.
  • Morin, Edgar. 1986. La Méthode, Tome 3, La Connaissance de la connaissance (Method, 3rd volume : The knowledge of knowledge)
  • Preyer, G./Siebelt, F./Ulfig, A. 1994. Language, Mind and Epistemology. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Rand, Ayn. 1979. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. New York: Meridian.
  • Russell, Bertrand. 1912. The Problems of Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schiffer, Stephen. 1996. "Contextualist Solutions to Scepticism", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 96:317-33.
  • Steup, Matthias. 2005. "Knowledge and Scepticism", Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Peter Sosa and Matthias Steup (eds.): 1-13.
  • Tomberlin, James (ed.). 1999. Philosophical Perspectives 13, Epistemology. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1922. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus . C.K. Ogden (trns.), Dover. Online text.
External links and references Edit

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles: